Woman putting lotion on hands (photo by iStock)
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: Nov.-Dec. 2023

Follow these five strategies to help combat dry skin this winter, and learn the lifestyle modifications that can help those at risk for developing diabetes. 

Winter Wellness
Follow these five strategies to combat dry, cracked skin as the weather turns cold. 

As if pulling on boots and clearing the driveway wasn’t enough this time of year, there is windburn, cracked hands, chapped lips and dry skin to contend with once the cold arrives. You can avoid such ailments associated with dry winter weather by following these five strategies courtesy of Chelsea Zastrow, a nurse practitioner with Kettering Health Medical Group in Dayton.

Just Add Water. We avoid humidity all summer, but it’s a crucial component to winter skin health. “We have our heat turned up at home, and many do not implement humidifiers, so the air dries out our skin,” Zastrow says. A simple hack for those who don’t own a humidifier: “Put a bowl of water in your bedroom. The water will evaporate into the air.”

Shorten Shower Time. A hot shower is tempting, but Zastrow advises not to overdo it. “In general, you should shower for 10 minutes or less and turn down the temperature,” she says, noting that long, hot showers exacerbate skin dryness. 

Moisturize with Care. Within five to 10 minutes of showering, apply a fragrance- and alcohol-free moisturizer to reduce dryness. Select a facial moisturizer and one for the body, ideally including SPF to cover all the bases, Zastrow advises. 

Opt for Ointment. Feet and hands get dry, chapped, cracked and irritated in cold weather. “Using some ointment instead of a cream can be more effective to trap in moisture,” Zastrow says. Before bed, work ointment into your hands and feet and put on breathable, cotton gloves and socks. 

Suit Up. Make sure you have the proper winter gear. “Wear hats, gloves and scarves to protect from the wind and harsh weather,” Zastrow advises. It may be faster to bolt from the car into the store without bundling up, but you’ll pay for it later.


Woman reading food label at grocery store (photo by iStock)
Little Changes, Big Impact
If you are at risk for diabetes, there are some simple lifestyle modifications that can help get you on the road to better health. 

You’re thirstier than usual. You feel more tired. Your appetite has spiked. It must be from stress, a busy schedule and not getting enough sleep, right? Not necessarily.

“There is a period of time when diabetes is silent,” says Lori Gilhousen, RN and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist at the Ashtabula County Medical Center. “You write it off as being tired, getting older, and signs like frequent urination and hunger are often even later signs.”

You can be doing all the right things to eat well and stay active but still develop diabetes because the pancreas isn’t making enough insulin or your body is not using the insulin efficiently.

“You don’t have to be overweight or not taking care of your health to have diabetes,” Gilhousen says. “That stigma is what keeps people from getting screened, but in the last 20 years, we have so many more tools to manage blood sugar more efficiently and to tailor treatment to each individual. One person’s journey with diabetes is not everyone else’s.”

November is American Diabetes Month, a reminder to screen for early diagnosis and intervention. The American Diabetes Association says 1 in 3 adults is at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. The latest ADA Standards in Medical Care in Diabetes advises screening for prediabetes and diabetes beginning at age 35 for all people and every three years following if results are normal. If the results are showing warning signs, Gilhousen says there are a lifestyle changes you can make under the advisement of your doctor.

Eat Smart. First, read labels — and this can be a great first “change” if you generally add grocery items to the cart without a glance. Include more whole foods, pay attention to the carbohydrate content, be mindful of serving sizes and don’t get overwhelmed. Downsize your plate too. Rather than the typical 12-inch round, choose an 8- or 9-inch sized plate that will set the stage for proper portions.  

Get Moving. Exercise can help lower blood sugar levels because muscle cells can more effectively use insulin. When muscles contract during activity, cells absorb glucose and use it for energy. Physical activity can lower blood glucose for up to 24 hours or longer, according to the American Diabetes Association. “Even if all you can do is walk to the mailbox and back, start there,” Gilhousen says. “Then walk to the mailbox when you don’t need to get the mail. Work up to 150 minutes per week of moderately intense to intense exercise.” 

Check In. “One of the most important things is to keep follow-up appointments, even if you’re struggling to make the changes your doctor suggested,” Gilhousen says. “Ignoring your diabetes won’t make it go away.” If you experience complications or the lifestyle changes are no longer working, be sure to touch base with your doctor.